Alternative Spring Break 2013-2014 - Out of the Shadows: Illuminating Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Mental Health in the Bay Area and Beyond

Basic Information
Application Process: 
Alternative Spring Break 2013-2014
Trip Name: 
Out of the Shadows: Illuminating Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Mental Health in the Bay Area and Beyond
Trip Location: 
Bay Area, CA
Air Travel Trip: 
Number of Participants: 
Trip Description: 

Did you know that mental health issues affect one in every five American families?


Mental health is often a difficult subject to speak openly about.  This may be for several reasons, including the unwillingness and fear of individuals to see themselves or others close to them as "diseased", the lack of a culturally sensitive, mainstream vocabulary for the discussion of mental health issues, and the stigma of seeking aid or treatment for psychiatric disorders.  Unfortunately, by not speaking openly and competently about these issues, we as a society risk leaving many individuals untreated, endangering their lives and damaging their communities and families, and holding back on potential advancements in care.


The aim of this class and its accompanying service trip is to begin to facilitate more open and informed conversations about mental health issues and their impacts in the larger community, whether that community is your dorm, Stanford campus, the Bay Area, the United States, or the world.  We hope to shed light on campus mental health resource availability, the different types of mental health disorders, their root causes, and current care and treatment methods, and perhaps most importantly, how we as students can serve as allies to those who seek to make mental health a priority in our personal lives, government policy, education, and medical research.


TRIGGER WARNING: We appreciate your willingness to share your personal experiences with us and/or the class if you wish.  However, we fully understand that not everyone is comfortable doing so, and we would further like to note that some of the content we will be discussing in class may be triggering for some individuals.  Please let us know if this is the case for you, and we would be happy to accommodate your needs.

Trip Leaders
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Jimmy He

Hey ASBers! I’m Jimmy, a senior majoring in Biology with a minor in Religious Studies. As a former Branner Public Service Scholar, I have sampled a wide-range of service-learning trips including participating in ASB, Impact Abroad to Nicaragua, and co-leading a TGB trip on Alzheimer’s disease and last year’s ASB trip on mental health. Part of why I have become interested in mental health is that it is not only a growing issue for college campuses but also directly affects my family, people in my state of Wisconsin, and a lot of the veterans that I have interacted with at the Menlo Park VA Hospital through United Students for Veterans’ Health (USVH). The trip I co-led last year greatly affected my perspectives on mental health and led me to transition from basic, hard-core science lab research to working in Dr. Rebecca Bernert’s clinical lab focusing on sleep interventions in certain population cohorts to prevent suicide. When I’m not busy preparing for classes and/or other activities, I like to swim long laps at the pool, visit my cousins in San Francisco, discover new music, and watch Wheel of Fortune! I am sincerely looking forward to meeting all of you and learning from your perspectives on this important issue.

Virginia Wang

Hi!  My name is Virginia, and I'm a current junior majoring in Biology here at Stanford.  As my primary academic interest is in neurobiology, I've been fascinated by the interactions between brain and behavior for a long time.  Having also been involved heavily in public service before and at Stanford in several different capacities (shout outs to Branner's Public Service Scholars program, Stanford Red Cross, & Arbor Free Clinic!), I began to think more critically about America's healthcare systems, especially with regards to individuals with psychiatric disorders, diagnosed or undiagnosed.  Through some personal experiences and after seeing some of the posts on the Stanford Confessions Facebook page, I realized that mental health at large is an issue that needs to be talked about for the benefit of the entire community, no matter how uncomfortable those conversations might be.  While I'm not thinking about brains, you can probably find me lurking around the music building, eating, or sleeping.  (Well, I hope you don't actually find me sleeping...)  I can't wait to meet all of you!  :)